Clare Cunliffe, Assistant Curator Museum of Liverpool, writes about the temporary Museum of Liverpool atrium display celebrating the 40th anniversary of the BBC’s hit children’s show Grange Hill. The display includes a variety of associated objects from the programme, kindly loaned by the Liverpool writer Phil Redmond CBE.
The name ‘Tucker Jenkins’ will immediately summon memories for people of a certain age. He was the anti-hero to a generation of children growing up in the late 1970/80s, including myself and my older brother.
“…Tucker Jenkins, Benny Green, ‘Bullet’ Baxter, Imelda, Zammo, Ziggy all these names take me back many, many years. I started watching the very first series when it came out in 1978, very much a gritty, urban landscape that the school was set in, which although was set in London, was very much applicable to any town or city around the country. Being a similar age to the Grange Hill cast it resonated very deeply with me, there was no other TV show at that period which came close.” Pete Ahmad, (Grange Hill fan) 2018
Tucker was one of the main characters in the hit BBC show Grange Hill, originally written and produced by Phil Redmond, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018. https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2018-02-08/grange-hill-40-years-fans-memories/ . The show ran from 8 February 1978 – 15 September 2008, reaching an incredible total of 31 series in all.
Grange Hill was a must-see for children everywhere and each episode would be eagerly talked about the following day in the school playgrounds up and down the country. Growing up in such an era of social and cultural change and unrest, Grange Hill managed to reflect a lot of what was going on at the time through a way never tried before. A television show based around a bunch of ‘working class’ comprehensive school children had never been attempted before and certainly mirrored a lot of what I saw at my own school on a daily basis. The programme tackled difficult and often controversial storylines such as racism, drug abuse, bullying, accidental deaths, sex and shoplifting; many of these issues had never been dealt with before in children’s programming.
In 1986 the BBC’s Drugwatch campaign was highlighted in Grange Hill’s heroin-addiction featuring an overdose by popular character ‘Zammo’ Maguire. The hit single, ‘Just Say No’, was released by the cast and reached the top ten in the music charts.
Although Grange Hill was originally filmed and set in the fictional borough of Northam, London, the show had its deeper roots here in Liverpool. The series was written by Phil Redmond and had originally been based on some of his own experiences at school in Kirkby, Liverpool, where he was brought up. Eventually the making of the show would move to studios here in Liverpool until its grand (and explosive!) finale in 2008.
My usual everyday job includes curating the Regional Archaeology collection http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/collections/archaeology/index.aspx so I was both delighted and surprised when asked to lead on this display. Being a huge fan of the show myself, it was a great pleasure to meet Phil Redmond (who had just recently been awarded the Freedom of Liverpool) https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/brookside-hollyoaks-creator-phil-redmond-14899675 and work with him to select and loan a number of unique objects associated with the show from his own collection.
Some of the objects displayed include the original bound handwritten and typed scripts from Series 1, the typewriter Phil used originally to type his scripts on, items of uniform worn in the show and an array of Grange Hill memorabilia which I’m sure will bring back fond memories for many fellow fans.
The Museum of Liverpool atrium display runs until 24th February 2019. http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/events/displayevent.aspx?EventId=37410
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